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Keeping up the pretence......

(38 Posts)
pudding21 Fri 13-Jan-17 10:25:11

I often lurk on Mumsnet and like some of the no nonsense advice that gets dished out. So looking for some wisdom.

Bit of background, I have been in a relationship with my partner (not married, he never wanted to until recently) for 21 years. I was very young (17) when we got together, 2 DS's, nearly 9 and 5. We live overseas (for the last 5 years), I work full time, he is a stay at home dad. This was not the plan but the way things turned out and he has never tried to get a job here (its all just too difficult). He has no drive or ambition and I think he is happy for me to take on the role of breadwinner.

He is a very anxious person, angry, lacks patience and can be incredibly critical. What people see in public is not how he is at home. Some days I literally want to stab him because he goes on and on and on about very simple things. Some of this I understand is his self esteem is low because he isn't working (although for me it doesn't make a difference if he was happy in his role as the stay at home dad). I work full time but still pull my weight at home but he still whinges at me that I don't do enough. For example, if I leave a cup on the side, he complains loudly. He mutters under his breath all the time. Sometimes I feel like I can't breathe. I still do the food shopping, do my share of cooking, get the kids ready, put them to bed etc. He has a good deal. I appreciate what he does, but he complains about his situation a lot, which makes me think he just isn't happy at all. He has always been a bit like this, but its been exaggerated with him at home all the time. Now, if he wanted to be out all day, meeting friends etc so long as we had food in the house and it was relatively tidy I wouldn't mind. I am quite happy for him to do what he wants. But he has this marytr type attitude and it drives me insane.

The last 18 months have been very difficult as things got much worse, egg shells constantly, him shouting at me and the kids. The lack of patience is awful, the tone in his voice irritates me. We can't leave the house as a family without there being stress (him, no one else). He says things, then forgets what he said, and because I don't like conflict I smooth it over so we can go on our day. I think he emotionally abuses me, passive aggressive etc and probably has done for a long time. Usually he is grumpy the first half of the day, and then as evening approaches and we have had dinner he starts to relax. We can still have a laugh and amazingly still have quite a good sex life. In November I was ready to leave him, but persuaded myself to give it one last chance. I told him deal breakers going forward were rages (he was doing this a lot, swearing and shouting at me in front of the kids, constant comparing and being competitive about who does more etc (this has improved) and paranoia and jealousy (seems better but I don't know if it is lying stagnant).

He knows I was at the end of my tether, and he thinks things have improved. BUT.......I have tried really hard, but I find myself feeling very negatively about him and I get really wound up with his lack of patience and respect for me. I quite often have a heavy heart and think "why did you have to say that?".

For example, last week we all had the dreaded Norovirus. He was violently sick for 24 hours, I sorted everything out with the house, the kids, works, made sure he had everything and took care of him. I wasn't sick but had diarrohea and its lasted a week. This morning he said "I don't think you really had the virus, i think you just said it to get in on the action". So no level of empathy (I felt like shit all week).

Also, his mother was just staying with us for 6 days. They don't get on, and he makes the whole situation very uncomfortable. I quite like his mum, she ican come across as a bit cold hearted and isn't really interested in the kids, but she isn't as bad as he makes out. In my eyes, she is his mum, she brought him up he should have some respect for her. But he can be quite cruel.He treats her with the same distaste as he does me at times. It made me feel really uncomfortable. He also drinks a lot, he was sneaking in alcohol while his mum was here, and then denies it.

So, my question is really, how do people make the move to leave when essentially you still love a person very much, but you feel you would be happier on your own. I could go on all day, there is a lot of history and genuinely I do love him. But I don't want to continue to live like this, and even though I vowed to try, there is a deep nagging in me that knows I don;t want to live like this for the rest of my life.

At Christmas time, my son went into his man cave for something and found a box of Chocolates. I didn't say anything as I assumed they were a suprise for me. Any way on Xmas day I didn't get them so a few days later I asked why and he couldn't explain. I think honestly he ate them.....but I was almost hoping he had given them to a woman, so i could take the moral high ground and have an excuse to leave. Does that sound crazy?

Sorry for the long post, and thanks in advance for any words of wisdom!!

Tenshidarkangel Fri 13-Jan-17 12:25:48

For the chocolates, I'd be meh over. I buy chocolates for me all the time. It's not like jewelry or something more suspicious.

You do however sound utterly worn out and miserable. Sometimes the trying comes too late and the damage is done.

Would you consider a trial separation?

SparklingRaspberry Fri 13-Jan-17 13:11:39

Wow you sound exhausted and I'm not surprised.

Why is it too difficult to get a job? You say his self esteem is low because he isn't working which is fair enough but if that really was the case he'd be someone who's out there taking any job he can find. I think he's just using that to excuse his shitty behaviour, I don't think he wants to work at all. Why would he?

You deserve a million times more better than this and so do your kids.

I've never been in this position so I can't really give much advice on how to leave etc but I do think you need to get out of there!

pocketsaviour Fri 13-Jan-17 13:42:04

Have you had legal advice about your position if you split?

I would tread really carefully here. He would have a good claim for being the resident parent as he is currently the main caregiver. If you split and he loses his meal ticket is he likely to want to return to the UK (assuming that's where you're both from)?

As you are unmarried your position is probably stronger regarding not having to give him spousal maintenance, but it does depend which country you're currently in.

hellsbellsmelons Fri 13-Jan-17 13:45:06

Can you think about the practicalities of splitting?
Would he leave?
Is the house mortgaged?
How would he survive? (not that this should really bother you but if you love him then it might be something going through your mind)
Would he still be main carer for the DC?
If so then you would have to pay him maintenance (not sure where you are so this might not be the case)
He's got a pretty cushy life now.
He get to abuse you and the kids as much as he wants. (Please google gaslighting abuse)
You all walk on eggshells around him.
He doesn't have to work.
He can drink and eat secretly.
It might be hard getting rid of him???

AnotherEmma Fri 13-Jan-17 13:49:23

He sounds emotionally abusive.
Signs of emotional abuse
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/2268977-The-Abuser-Profiles

What country do you live in? Is there a local equivalent of Women's Aid? I suggest you get specialist support and legal advice about protecting yourself and your children in the event of a split.

pudding21 Fri 13-Jan-17 14:55:59

Wow, thanks for the replies smile

*@Tenshidarkangel*: about the chocolates, it doesn't bother me at all, but he hid them in the man cave and either ate all of them secretly and hid all the packets (they were Ferrero Roche) or gave them to someone else he didnt want me to know about. I go with the first theory, but its still sneaky. Couldn't see a trail separation working.

*@SparklingRaspberry*, we had a plan to do something when we first moved abroad but it didn't work out. In the meantime I made sure I found work, he slipped into the role of house husband. Up until recently financially he didn't need to work and I needed him here for the kids (sometimes I go abroad for a week or so at a time). But recently my salary was cut by 25% and it would help if he did work. His options are limited, but he has some. But doesn't seem bothered and makes excuses about the language etc.

*@pocketsaviour*- the only legal advice I took was could I leave without his permission with the kids and I was told yes. If we did split I don't know what he would do, whether he would stay here, or move back to the UK. I would argue his is the main care giver though, as I work from home. The kids are at school all day, and by the time the eldest is home I have finished work. Its only holidays he really has to do much in terms of childcare. Soon as I finish in my office I pick up with the kids.

@hellsbellsmelons:
Can you think about the practicalities of splitting? when I thought about it before, I thought I would leave with the kids, just because he can then be in the house and it would be easier for him. I know, i know.......
Would he leave?
Is the house mortgaged? no, the house is in both our names. We built it together and is all equity
How would he survive? (not that this should really bother you but if you love him then it might be something going through your mind) this really bothers me and is my main concern actually, I think more about him than I do about me. Recently he came into a good amount of inheritence and a friend here has offered him work, so it might actually kick him up the ass
Would he still be main carer for the DC? * I could manage, here they have good after school support up to 7pm at a low cost, not ideal but I would manage*
If so then you would have to pay him maintenance (not sure where you are so this might not be the case) * I don't think so*
He's got a pretty cushy life now. Indeed he does
He get to abuse you and the kids as much as he wants. (Please google gaslighting abuse)
You all walk on eggshells around him.
He doesn't have to work.
He can drink and eat secretly.
It might be hard getting rid of him??? * Thats why I always imagined I would leave him at the house, but lots of people have told me not to do that*

*@Tenshidarkangel*: about the chocolates, it doesn't bother me at all, but he hid them in the man cave and either ate all of them secretly and hid all the packets (they were Ferrero Roche) or gave them to someone else he didnt want me to know about. I go with the first theory, but its still sneaky. Couldn't see a trail separation working.

*@SparklingRaspberry*, we had a plan to do something when we first moved abroad but it didn't work out. In the meantime I made sure I found work, he slipped into the role of house husband. Up until recently financially he didn't need to work and I needed him here for the kids (sometimes I go abroad for a week or so at a time). But recently my salary was cut by 25% and it would help if he did work. His options are limited, but he has some. But doesn't seem bothered and makes excuses about the language etc.

*@pocketsaviour*- the only legal advice I took was could I leave without his permission with the kids and I was told yes. If we did split I don't know what he would do, whether he would stay here, or move back to the UK. I would argue his is the main care giver though, as I work from home. The kids are at school all day, and by the time the eldest is home I have finished work. Its only holidays he really has to do much in terms of childcare. Soon as I finish in my office I pick up with the kids.

@anotheremma I think he is abusive, but at times he can be kind too. I find it difficult to term it abuse, although I know if I heard about it from a friend that is exactly what I would call it. Its got worse as in the last 2 years perhaps I have started to stick up for myself more and more, and he doesn't like it. I wouldn't say he does it on purpose, I don't think half the time he realises he is doing it, and he forgets it real quick so I feel like I need to let it go, iykwim.

I might, if its ok to do that on here, document things in the thread, so it is down in black and white over the course of the next few weeks. The good bits and bad bits, to try and put some perspective on it.

The most difficult part for me, would be to see him hurt. And really, all he has is me and the kids. He makes no attempts at relationships with is family, friends or anything else.

VivDeering Fri 13-Jan-17 15:09:29

Think through your options in terms of leaving him, just to see what they might be.

AnotherEmma Fri 13-Jan-17 15:29:35

"I think he is abusive, but at times he can be kind too."
Of course he's not abusive all the time. No-one would get and stay in relationships with abusers, otherwise! Google the cycle of abuse.

"I wouldn't say he does it on purpose, I don't think half the time he realises he is doing it, and he forgets it real quick so I feel like I need to let it go, iykwim."
Of course he does it on purpose. He's not "accidentally" treating you like shit! You're kidding yourself if you think that he is. I suspect he "forgets" his behaviour in order to pretend it never happened so that you will too. That's called gaslighting.

I strongly suggest you read "Why does he do that?" by Lundy Bancroft.

"all he has is me and the kids. He makes no attempts at relationships with his family, friends or anyone else."
Well that's his own fault, isn't it?!
If you leave him he'll have to get a job and make more of an effort with family and friends. It'll probably do him good. But most importantly, it'll do you good. You're not responsible for his happiness - and you wouldn't be responsible for it even if he was a decent man (which he isn't).

pudding21 Fri 13-Jan-17 16:01:22

So this just happened as an example. Please tell me if you think I am unreasonable.

Backstory (sounds ridiculous): he bought 5 custard cakes the other day, they all were eaten but my 5 year didnt have one. Last night he got upset and said "I wanted one of those cakes, Daddy said i could have one. How come (older brother) had one and I didn't". My littlest is the sweetest little boy you could ever meet. So i said to him "tomorrow when I take you to school I will buy you one and you can have it when you get home". i bought one and put it in the cupboard. Partner didn't hear this conversation.

So he just came home from school, came into my office and said "Mummy can I have the cake now". So I said, sure, lets go get it.

Turned out, partner had eaten it so I said "Why did you eat it" and he said "I had no F**CKing idea that was why it was in the cupboard, don't make such a big deal about everything" Shouting, being aggressive.

I was calm, said I understood he didn't realise, but he wouldn't let me explain why I had bought it for the little one.

Then he said i just go round and round in circles and move on.

So frustrating. I want to tell him its over.....arrrggghhhh, but cannot bring myself to actually go through with it.

AnotherEmma Fri 13-Jan-17 16:15:49

I've already told you he's emotionally abusive.

Yes, shouting at you about a cake is emotionally abusive. Especially when part of a pattern of abuse.

If you're having trouble with the "abusive" label how about just accepting that he's a twat? He's that too.

NoFuckingRoomOnMyBroom Fri 13-Jan-17 18:05:15

Urgh, he sounds pathetic tbh-does he have food issues of some sort?
Personally I'd fuck him off, he's draining you whilst being emotionally abusive & that's not what you or your children need.

SaltySeaDog72 Fri 13-Jan-17 19:01:34

OP. I was you. Until 2013 until I literally snapped. At which point I asked him to leave.

Until then I was in the FOG like you. FOG stands for 'fear, obligation and guilt' which holds you back... you've been suffering this low level abuse so long you've lost all sense of what's right and wrong. His abuse of you is the reason for that.

But let me tell you. 'I don't want to be in a relationship with you any more' is reason enough to split. And you have many more reasons than that.

Please save your children from internalising this model of relationships and from recreating this setup in their adult relationships. Teach them it's right to leave when you're being abused. It's right to leave when you are in a bad relationship.

It's right to live an authentic version of you and wrong to live on eggshells, confused and on edge, constantly wondering whether it's you who is wrong.

You can and should leave this relationship. Practicalities here are unclear with him as SAHD and you outside the UK. But you sound very intelligent and strong and there is always a way.

I've gone from strength to strength since I left the marriage. So have my kids. You and your kids can do it OP flowers

VivDeering Fri 13-Jan-17 19:10:10

What would be an ok response to that? If I found out that I'd eaten a child's treat I'd feel awful! I'd explain, apologise and ask the child how I could make up for it. It'd be over in a couple of minutes and the child would have seen how we should behave when we unintentionally hurt someone's feelings.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Fri 13-Jan-17 19:31:46

Your small child saw and heard his appalling behaviour?

His dad ate his cake. Twice. You get shouted and sworn at for asking about it.

Did he apologise to DS for eating all the cakes? Did he go and get him a new cake to make up for it?

It isn't just you being emotionally abused.

Qwertie Fri 13-Jan-17 19:46:21

It sounds like your DCs really need you to be the resident parent, OP. The cake thing speaks volumes. flowers

refusetobeasheep Fri 13-Jan-17 19:50:26

I've been in your position. Abusive partner, he was main carer. In U.K. Be aware he will get 50/50 shared care , don't know about your country. Not immediately - mine hasn't yet but the courts are inching that way despite him being found guilty of assaulting me. Not that 50/50 is necessarily a bad thing - kids have a right to both parents. At least if you are separated you can give them a life where they're not walking on eggshells so know the abusive life is not the norm. When I was still with my ex, I would rarely contradict him as repercussions too bad for dc. Far better to be separated where you can be you and show your dc a different way of life when they're with you.
Start telling people in RL - you will be amazed how much support you will get. Good luck!

pudding21 Mon 16-Jan-17 12:57:58

Thanks to everyone for your replies. It really helps to gain a perspective on things.

Saltyseadog: you hit the nail on the head when you say about being authentic version of myself. I modify my behaviour, I try and preempt things to not cause a row, I am not the kind of friend, mother, daughter or even partner I want to be, That is really sad.

The weekend wasn't great, I am still trying to get my thoughts in order about what to do. My friend in real life says he should leave, to not disrupt the kids too much and to protect myself, but I know he won't leave. he just won't. So the only option is for me too, but finances are tight so to run two homes would be impossible. I have emotions throughout the day of complete anger and disgust, I actually used the hate word to describe him the other day to my friend. But there is also so much love there for him too, its difficult to try and understand how you can love and hate someone in the same measure.

Its strange because in RL my friends and family call up on me for advice. One of my closest friends who knows half of it (not all) said to me I am the wisest people she knows and why can't I just break away. I couldn't answer.

I am going to keep posting on here, if that is ok, with incidents etc and for support, and try to think of a way to do this with as least disruption for the kids as possible.

Thanks again everyone

pudding21 Fri 20-Jan-17 10:07:15

Thought I would give a quick update and ask opinions on the follow interactions (these are just ones I remember, so not isolated at all).

Three nights a week he goes to a language scholl which means I have to pick up the kids from school and sort their tea out. I really enjoy these two hours alone with the boys as he is always in the house and we have a lot of fun. He came home early last night as there was a power cut as I was getting their tea ready (they were having pizza, I was cooking something they don't like for us later on). He stood over me while I put it in the oven, then he stood over me while I cooked it giving me instructions. I said to him " Why are you stood over me I am an adult, I know how to cut a pizza". To which he replied " well I spent all day f**king cleaning up and I don't want you to make a mess". He is a bit OCD to say the least.

I cooked a lovely meal (he is always telling me I don't cook enough, I have no issues cooking but usually while I am working he has sorted something out) and this morning he said " well it wouldn't have won any awards".......

Finally, my youngest has ear ache and this morning was ok although looked a bit washed out so he said he was ok to go to school. Partner told them in a loud voice (not shouting but firm and a bit unecessary in my opinion) to go upstairs and start getting dressed. 2 minutes later DS came downstairs crying softly saying he didn't want to go to school. So I started to cuddle him and tell him it was ok, he didn't need to go to school if he felt poorly and I would get a blanket for him etc. To which partner replied "he doesn't need to be so sensitive I just told him to get ready for school". I replied "he isn't crying cos you told him to get dressed, he is upset because his ear hurt". To which he replied " if people stopped sticking their oar in everything would be much easier". When the kids were out of earshot I said, "tending to my child is not sticking my oar in, its being a parent".

Is this normal? He makes me feel like it is, and I think it isn't. I know he is anxious, but he just cannot bite his lip.

Help me unpick this please.......................

AnotherEmma Fri 20-Jan-17 11:33:47

I still think he's abusive, and even if he's not, he's certainly unpleasant.

Not a good person to be around you or your children sad

Secretlife0fbees Fri 20-Jan-17 11:34:56

Pudding he reminds me so much of my stbxh. Always playing the victim, blaming others, criticising. Standing in the way if you comforting your child is a classic abusive behaviour. My stbxh has actually said to me on numerous occasions referring to my ds 'stop MOTHERING him'!!! He doesn't see how fucked up that actually is since i am his mother and my job!
Honestly he sounds absolutely awful and I think you should break free for yours and your sons' sakes. He's not your child! Let him sort his own life out... I totally get the feelings of obligation and all that and it's hard to put your foot down and draw a line but honestly he is a grown man who sounds to me like he's been having a pretty cushty life whilst behaving like an ungrateful spoilt little manbrat.

DaftMarenghi Fri 20-Jan-17 12:58:17

Dump him, sell the house or get him to buy you out with his inheritance. It's the only way you'll get to live a life you'll actually enjoy.
You're putting his welfare and feelings first because you're a nice person and you don't want to upset him, but all that means is you're signing yourself up for years of a miserable half life. Imagine your own home for you and your boys without him, everyone's relaxed and happy (most of the time smile ) look ahead to when your boys have grown up, do you really want to be stuck at home with just your partner?
You've got a good job by the sounds of it, break free now before you loose anymore years.

pudding21 Wed 08-Feb-17 11:00:42

Hi everyone

An update, I have neglected this thread as have been posting on another (sorry intricatelysimple for gatecrashing ;))

So this morning I told him i moving out at the weekend with the kids and that once he is ready we can talk about logistics. He got very angry, shouted, called me melodramatic and sensationalist. Nice. He clearly does not think or choses to ignore the fact that I have told him many times I am unhappy, that I don't like the way he treats me like shit. That speaks volumes.

i have a nice three bed rented for atleast 6 months, I opened a new bank account, I have all documents photocopied and I have the boys passports. I am going to see a lawayer next week, but for now what I can do is done.

If he starts being more of a twat I will leave straight away as I have the keys. He asked me if it was forever, i said i didnt know, but if he kept acting like he is NO. Actually I dont feel now there is anyway back, but didnt want to continue the conversation.

Thanks to everyone for the gentle push, it has been great to have support and other people who understand what is happening. I also have great friends, none of whom have been in the slightest bit suprised.

KatieScarlett Wed 08-Feb-17 11:03:49

Well done, you are doing the right thing.

OurBlanche Wed 08-Feb-17 11:09:35

Good for you!

Stay in close touch with those friends, and here if they aren't available. You may find you need some support to stand up to whatver he chooses to throw at you.

But you know you can do it! You already have. It will just take him a while to catch up smile

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